The political picture

Barack Obama is the most liberal/left-wing president ever. And yet the whining of the liberal left is growing to a shrill screech.

Some of them actually say Democrats lost the 2010 elections because Obama wasn’t left-wing enough (giving up the public option on health care, for example). When in fact they lost because a majority of voters deemed Obama too left-wing. The left can’t seem to accept that they’re a minority. They cling to the fantasy that if only people voted rationally, they’d win. In fact, mainstream voters understand well enough what the left is selling. And they aren’t buying.

Credit: Eaglecartoons.com

This pattern is repeated in the left’s ire over the recent tax deal. They feel Obama should have insisted on raising taxes on higher incomes. They ignore the inconvenient truth that clear majorities in Congress wouldn’t vote for this.

In that tax deal, Obama actually won more of the left’s agenda (extending unemployment benefits, tax breaks for working people, and in effect another stimulus) than might have been expected. Yet still the left whines and carps.

That the two parties could come together on that compromise deal is perhaps somewhat encouraging. However, this was really a case of Republicans agreeing to raid the Treasury to give Democrats goodies they covet in exchange for Dems agreeing to pillage the Treasury for things Republicans want.

Too bad the Treasury wasn’t in on the negotiations. The deal violates the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. Given the deepening fiscal hole America is in, what we really need is for Republicans to agree to sacrifice some of what they cherish in return for Democrats agreeing to their own sacrifices. That was the essence of the recent Simpson-Bowles Commission proposals, for getting control of our spiraling national debt. Shamefully, Obama won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. So it’s no surprise that few other politicians would either.

But those politicians can’t be faulted. The blame lies with voters. Polls show solid majorities favoring deficit reduction, but those majorities evaporate when any specific cuts are at issue (except maybe foreign aid, which voters on average estimate at 24% of the budget; in fact it’s under 1%). To prevent economic disaster, we’ll have to take big whacks out of Medicare, farm subsidies, military bloat, and yes, horrors, Social Security. No more welfare for the rich.

I’m not holding my breath.

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “The political picture”

  1. Lee Says:

    I agree that the 2010 elections were a referendum on Obama, and that he lost. But I am curious as to which policies of his you think were the ones that displeased the voters. For instance, it appears that the policies championed by Carly Fiorina, Sharon Angle, Joe Miller, and Carl Paladino were not what the voters were looking for. The “Blue Dog” democrats were likewise decimated.

    FSR RESPONSE: 1) Health care was the main issue that hurt Obama. And the general impression that Congressional Democrats were out of control on spending.
    2) The “Blue Dogs” were hit not because voters preferred more lefty to less lefty Democrats. It was an effect of gerrymandering. In a one-party district, candidates only have to worry about primary voters, who tend to be more ideological, hence representatives of such districts tend toward their parties’ extremes. In contrast, candidates in competitive districts have to cleave toward the center. Those were the “Blue Dogs” and because they tended to come from competitive districts, they were most vulnerable to the Republican tide; whereas Dems from gerrymandered safe districts (who tend to be more lefty) withstood it.

  2. Lee Says:

    I don’t understand the press’s obsession with cutting the deficit. Is there even a hint of inflation? Is the money we’re using being used in such a way that it we get nothing in return for it? (Well, the wars are a poor return for our money, as are the farm subsidies, but what about the stimulus expenditures?) IMHO, it is perfectly reasonable to spend twice ones income in order to buy a home, but not, e.g., to buy shoes. Does the press think we’re buying “shoes” with our federal money? (Earmarks are as small as foreign assistance are they not?)

    I wish the press would obsess about where we are spending the money (e.g., a home vs. closets full of shoes) rather than how much we spend. I consider it a positive to buy a home, even if it is more than ones income (within reason), and I see no reason why we should cut that for cutting’s sake.

    FSR RESPONSE: You’re right — up to a point. But we’re way past that point. Once again you just won’t face up to the fact that we’re mortgaging the future for the sake of paying out unseemly subsidies to people like me who don’t need them. Interest on federal debt will soon exceed the Defense budget. The world of bond buyers will start to gag when they lose confidence that all this debt can be paid, with uninflated dollars. At that point, ineluctable economic forces will impose real pain. Then we’ll see what will happen to all your cherished programs for the truly needy. (Remember that the non-needy are far more politically empowered to defend their goodies.)

  3. Lee Says:

    Health care was the main issue that hurt Obama. And the general impression that Congressional Democrats were out of control on spending.

    Which aspects of health care didn’t the voters like? Was it the pro-business (right leaning) mandatory insurance or the pro-people (left-leaning) universal coverage? Or something else?

    Blue dog losses — that makes sense to me.

    Could you be more specific on the dissatisfaction with “out of control spending”? Specifically, your post indicates that it was “left” policies that were repudiated; so a categorizing of the out of control spending in terms of left and right would be helpful to me.

    A corporation with good ideas is expected to go into debt to its neck, if that is necessary to make them happen. If we’re building bridges, rural internet, educating people, etc. we’ll have no trouble repaying the debt from our profits. I agree wholeheartedly that “welfare for the rich” and other parts of our spending need large cuts. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water; other parts of our budget need increasing, and the net effect in current outlays could easily be a lot closer to $0 then the press is willing to consider.

    IMHO, this changes in a year or two when unemployment is better, and there are hints of inflation. Then we can trust the business cycle instead of government stimulus. I hear that businesses are sitting on mounds of cash, afraid to spend it, so it is premature to trust businesses just yet.

  4. scottdperlman@gmail.com Says:

    I agree with what you said and while I have some issues with Simpson-Bowles Commission (I wrote about it at http://scottperlman.typepad.com/weblog/2010/11/its-a-plan-dammit.html), using it as a foundation for starting to change the way we think and act would be a most positive step.
    I also agree with that it appears the public thinks foreign aid and other spending categories are more significant than they are. Another example is earmarks. While most of them anger me they do not add up to a spending level that we should focus on. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Defense is where we spend our money. There are some very interesting and constructive recommended changes out there that would positively impact these areas.

  5. bruce Says:

    Lee,
    I agree there is some merit to spending borrowed money on a product that will make a return.
    What our big money expenditures have in common is no return. Feel good deeds don’t buy groceries. Every dollar spent on health care, Social Security and welfare is energy that can’t be reclaimed.
    If you want to mine minerals on the moon, or mine minerals in the USA for that matter, you can expect something of value to be returned to you for the money you invested. Its perverse and inverse that the money people “invested ” in S.S. is at once not there and not being there, it isn’t even making a return on its being made “there”.

    I would like to believe Americans would take to a system where the Government did nothing but do its absolute minimum. Social programs, social safety nets, social managing would be the realm of our collective society, not the dictates of a defining manager.

  6. bruce Says:

    Lee,

    I know I didn’t agree with he health care bill for one reason, and that reason was more than enough to make me despise the effort.

    That reason, it never really was about reducing health care costs.
    Its been stated that health care related lawsuits costs more than the cost of giving care to all those uninsured. Might be a place to look there, no?

    No, the effort was more about increasing costs for some while giving to some one else. The galling part, not even camouflaged behind some curtain. A simple taking from one to give to another.

  7. Nil Einne Says:

    Personally I’m not so sure why people are so worried about the economy. After all, the fundamentals of the US economy are strong https://rationaloptimist.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/the-fundamentals-of-our-economy-are-sound/

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